He put the Belt around my life
I heard the Buckle snap —
And turned away, imperial,
My Lifetime folding up —
Deliberate, as a Duke would do
A Kingdom’s Title Deed —
Henceforth, a Dedicated sort —
A Member of the Cloud.
Yet not too far to come at call —
And do the little Toils
That make the Circuit of the Rest —
And deal occasional smiles
To lives that stoop to notice mine —
And kindly ask it in —
Whose invitation, know you not
For Whom I must decline?
God (or my father) has hemmed me in. He treats me kindly, after a fashion, but I do not give myself to Him.
after further reading this poem and when i say further i mean numerous times. this is my final thought about it.
In the beginning of the first stanza the poet presents to the reader an individual whose life is limited by her parents strict guidelines, as stated in the first two sentences “he put the belt around my life, ¬¬¬¬- I heard the buckle snap.” This individual is portraying to the reader that the parents have set down these rules and there is no way around them. As the stanza continues he implies that he must take on the tasks given “as a duke would do a kingdom’s title deed”. The poet compares the duke to the child, the kingdom as the parents and the title deed being the tasks given at hand. In the concluding sentences the poet reiterates that the individual is highly dedicated to successfully complete each task give to him, as though he was a man of high prestige.
not to sure how much this might help u but there it is
It could be a man controlling her life–her father, Wadsworth, Higginson?–but it makes more sense to identify the “He” and “Whom” with god. The belt is some kind of sign of office, the one who puts the belt on the speaker is a “Duke” with “imperial” stature. Once belted, the speaker becomes a member of the elite and ethereal “Cloud.” (If you wanted to you could read this a some kind of kinky bondage thing–The Story of E–but that would be inappropriate and less than tactful.)
With the second eight lines in place, I see the poem as a wry and witty, even slightly rueful, comment on ED’s famous reclusivity. There might not have been a train she wouldn’t take as it lapped up its miles, but in fact she did take very few, and she did care where they were going!
And of course, like most of ED’s other poems, you can sing it to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” or “Amazing Grace,” or any other song in psalm meter.
i re-read this poem over and over and i can never fully grasp the point of the poem. i feel it’s about a man who is controlling her life. is this true? please contact me at the email address above.